Phew, I've survived week one in Madrid. Hooray! There's been a lot of adjusting to the city, and getting rid of my jet-lag, but overall is has gone pretty smoothly. My biggest challenge thus far has been doing my best to not compare everything about my experience this year to last year. I had such a great year in Almería, that I struggle to not always fall back on that experience. However, I knew that by choosing Madrid I wanted a big change from Almería, and I got it. There are some big differences (good and bad) I've noticed very quickly. The obvious things are that Madrid is much more expensive from housing to the price of a tapa, the amount of people, the diversity, the unavoidable influence of tourism, and of course the size of the city. Even though Madrid is 10 times the size of Almería, it's much easier to get around. In fact, today I just got my "abono" card which will give me unlimited rides on the metro, buses, and light rail for about 50 euros a month. Pretty pricey but an absolutely necessity for me as I'll be taking the metro minimum twice a day (to and from work).
I had a few big things that were on my to-do list that I accomplished this week. The first was attending the mandatory meeting for auxiliares (language assistants) the day after I arrived. Most of it was just review from last year, and it was long and tedious, but I met a few nice people so it was worth it. The following day and new friend and I went and set up our appointments for our TIE card, which will be our ID here in Spain. It's a long process, so we wanted to get our dates set up as soon as possible. Our appointments are scheduled for late October, and we'll receive the cards 40 days after that, so until then, I'll have to rely on my old TIE card from last year and a copy of my passport for my form of identification. On Friday I went to visit my school. I didn't go inside because I didn't want to interrupt the school day, but I got to practice my commute and met the four other auxiliares I'll be working with this year. They seem like a good bunch! Four Americans and one British girl, all of us have at least one year of teaching experience; two worked at the same school last year, one girl used to be in a pueblo outside of Cordoba and the other was in South Korea. I'm looking forward to getting to know all of them!
The weekend was fun. On Friday one of my roommates, Tamara, invited me to her boyfriend's concert and let me bring two of the new girls I met. We had a blast! It was a small concert venue, but afterwards we hung out with the band who were all nice guys, and we had a good time. Saturday I went out with some other friends I had met earlier in the week. The three of them live right around the corner from me so it will be nice having some friends living close to me! Tonight there will be some roommate bonding time as the three of us will be making dinner together (veggie tacos, fruit salad and a surprise dessert!). Tomorrow is the first day of school. Excited and nervous just like most students on their first day. Crossing my fingers for good hours, friendly teachers and nice students. A girl can dream can't she?
(I apologize for the lack of pictures. I promise the next post will have plenty!)